Well I saw it, and did I think it lived up to the hype, both good and bad? Eh.
It was very beautiful to look at but the world of Pandora was very familiar to me. Hayao Miyazaki did many similar things in some of his animated films like Nausicaa. In fact, I could see a lot of Miyazaki influence and Roger Dean, the artist of the Yes album covers of the 70s. There was also a feeling of Alan Dean Foster’s Midworld books which I read back in the 80s. Many ideas seem to be cribbed from that series. It’s about a human who is raised, Tarzan-like, by these ape-like creatures on a planet that is covered by giant rain forests much like those in this movie. And then these aliens show up to bulldoze the place and he has to fight them off.
The story of the movie is really insipid. First of all, the depiction of corporations and the military bear absolutely no relation to reality. Real corporations bend over backward to be PC. They do not go around killing people willy nilly. Neither does the US military which spends billions on rebuilding infrastructure in places it invades. It tries to win over the natives, not kill them with the detached kind of amusement as we saw here.
This is the classic anti-war lefty propaganda stance that was wrong in Vietnam and its wrong now. The real monsters were the other guys, but they have to make us out to be the villains. This movie is a thinly veiled Oliver Stone-type Vietnam movie. With blue guys and flying dragons.
Was it entertaining? Sure, if you can turn off your brain and not groan at every cliche that comes along. The dialog is ok, the acting is good. The cgi is wonderful, especially the subtle performances that come through on the faces of the alien actors. You forget that they are cgi, even though at times it looks it.
Cameron can write and direct a good action film. He is not as bone headed as Lucas. But he reveals himself to be another Hollywood bubble head. No relation to the real world. He writes from his ivory tower how people should commune with nature like a Rousseau noble savage. Yet Rousseau, who influenced all the back to nature fools that followed him, really abhorred nature and spent most of his time in the cities. In fact, he hated people, too. He was another hypocrite like the green clowns who are pushing AGW while flying around on private jets.
The Na’vi in this movie spend a lot of time trying not to be killed by nature. But they have so many absurd advantages to commune with other animals humans don’t have, including some kind of fiber optics cable in their braids (don’t ask). And the trees talk to them. Yeah.
As a movie I think this is important for the technical achievements. Other than that it’s as trite and puerile as a Carson of Venus story by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Check out this scene from Nausicaa and see if it doesn’t remind you of Avatar a little. The difference is Nausicaa has a great story, is a well grafted and original yarn. And he doesn’t copy other people’s ideas to death. It also came out in the 80s.